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Friday, June 07, 2002
Dammit. Another Ramone dead. Not cool. I dedicated the original 'Needles and Pins' to him today. RIP, Dee Dee. Gabba Gabba Hey.
On a ligher note, here's my latest movie review. Lemme know what you think. (I'm too lazy to do markup, so put itallics and whatnot in mentally.)
Bad Company * ½
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: Gary Goodman and David Himmelstein (story); Jason Richman and Michael Browning (screenplay)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, and a bunch of character actors
Rated PG-13 (sass, attitude and flava!)
I suppose I should extend my thanks to Messrs. Schumacher and Bruckheimer for giving me so many great ideas. There are so many ways I could start off this review, including (but not limited to):
This movie deserves a hug, because it tried its best.
The oldest story in human history must be that of the sassy, street-wise black man being paired up with the straight-laced older white man.
Instead of writing a review, I’m going to write a transcript of what Mike, Crow and Tom Servo would have said, were they in the audience.
Instead, I’m going to use this opportunity – nay, this gift, to offer you something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. This is going to be an entry-level film course. If there are any young Spielbergs or Kubricks reading this, please take notes. You won’t be quizzed, but, you will save yourself some humiliation at the box office should you feel compelled to make a movie starring Jimmy “Dyn-O-Mite!” Walker and Patrick “Engage!” Stewart in a buddy cop story that features as its central plot device a rogue state placing a nuclear device at a Star Trek convention and time-travel. Perhaps you’d call it Russell Simmons’ Def Con One or Box Office Poison. Sure, the idea sounds fantastic on paper, but, as you’ll soon learn, things don’t always translate from the page to the screen. So, to help you wind up with something that’s only mostly bad, like Turner and Hooch, instead of something that’s completely bad, like Rising Sun, I am offering these tips.
Now, to make sure that everyone’s on the same page, let me give you an abstract of the story. Jack Hayes (Rock) is a street-wise sassy black man. He plays chess in the park for money, and scalps tickets to things like Knicks games and Broadway shows. Gaylord Oakes (Hopkins) is a CIA spook, but not one of the head spooks. Oakes was working with Michael Turner (Rock) on trying to buy a former-Soviet suitcase nuclear bomb. Turner gets shot and dies, saving the life of Oakes. Guess what – Turner and Hayes are, are you sitting down? LONG LOST TWINS! (Long-lost twins would be the second-oldest story in human history.) Turner was a CIA spook, too. A deep-cover spook. The deal had been secured with a nasty former-Soviet General (some character actor speaking with a bad Russian accent). The CIA now has nine days to see this deal through. So, they ‘convince’ Hayes to help them out by impersonating Turner. There is a love interest, and another love interest, and some guns, and some shooting, and some computer stuff, and Jack Hayes says some sassy stuff, and Gaylord Oakes broods and acts all cold and distant, but you know that he’s just faking it, because, what’s the point of teaming up a sassy black man and a straight-laced white man if they don’t learn how to love?
So, that’s pretty much it. Now, here’s a partial list of things that went wrong in this train wreck.
When I first saw a trailer for this movie, I felt a little part of me die. I saw the name Jerry Bruckheimer. Now, I used to look forward to losing the brain cells that Bruckheimer productions killed off. I didn’t really need them, anyway. He made stupid, dumb summer movies that featured things like explosions and sassy black people in cameo roles, like the sassy black woman who was one of the hostages in The Rock, or the sassy black bus driver in The Rock, or, if a sassy black actor wasn’t available, a sassy homosexual, like the one seen in Con Air. They were formulaic and stupid and exemplified what a ‘Summer Movie’ was all about. Sometimes they featured an Aerosmith song, or a LeAnn Rimes song, but that was after all the explosions and one-liners delivered by Sean Connery or John Cusack. Then, he made Pearl Harbor, which had a preview that, I am not kidding, made an entire audience groan. We don’t want Jerry Bruckheimer involved in anything that involves actual emotional investment on the part of the audience. Not content with producing Pearl Harbor, he went and threw everyone for a loop by producing the Oscar-winning Black Hawk Down, which everyone should see. So, now, whenever I see Bruckheimer’s name attached to anything, I err on the side of caution and assume that it’s going to be garbage.
Just to kill a little bit more of my soul, I saw that Bad Company was directed by Joel Schumacher, the man who killed the Batman franchise. The man who decided that the costumes of Batman and Robin just weren’t complete without nipples. The man who directed DC Cab, which had Mr. T (which was good), and The Barbarian Brothers (which wasn’t good). Joel Schumacher should not be allowed to make movies ever again.
So, what filmmaking lessons can we gain from this movie?
1) Long-lost twin plots are only effective if Jackie Chan is the star of the movie. We like contrived plots in Jackie Chan’s movies. We’re not there for things like ‘story’ and ‘character development’ – we want to see what sort of crazy stunts Jackie is going to do. They do not work in movies that do not involve Jackie Chan. When we don’t have Jackie Chan, we wind up with Maximum Risk starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The “twin” genre, for the most part, is just not a good idea. Unless you actually like movies with Peter and David Paul, The Barbarian Brothers.
2) If you’re going to cast a popular comedian in a movie, for the love of Pete, don’t have him or her use lines from their stand-up act. Especially lines from their stand-up act from like 10 years ago.
3) If you are looking to make an action/comedy, you should make sure that the comedy parts are the funny parts, not the action parts of the dramatic parts.
4) If you’re going to feature the CIA in your movie, you should either have an agent who is sickened by the amount of red tape that prevents him from solving the case, or a conspiracy based around either a) The Illuminati or b) space aliens. You shouldn’t just portray the entire agency as being incompetent.
5) If your name is Chris Rock, and you are a former member of the “Saturday Night Live” cast, you should get a better agent, or be more selective with your scripts. You should probably pick roles that don’t have you screaming like a woman. Those roles are written with Chris TUCKER in mind.
6) If your name is Anthony Hopkins, and you have been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, you can play pretty much any role you want to play. There’s no need for you to go slumming.
7) If, as a director, you are working for Jerry Bruckheimer, and you are using excellent actors (like John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi in Con Air), you should make sure that you are actually using abilities the actors possess beyond ‘can read lines’ and ‘can not read lines when other characters are speaking’. You should also make sure that any villains can do convincing foreign accents, since they will be required.
8) If you are going to feature things like ‘computers’ or ‘technology’ in your movie, you should use things like ‘operating systems that actually work’. Apple Computers regularly pays lots of money to have MacOS used in movies. MacOS stopped the aliens in Independence Day. Little things like that will save you money in the long run.
9) If you’re going to feature ‘characters’ in your movie, make sure that the audience cares about what happens to them. If you’re going to feature things like ‘tension’ in your movie, make sure that you have met the needs for a ‘character’, and make sure that your ‘plot’ isn’t entirely predictable. If you’re going to feature things like ‘plot’, make sure that you’re not making a movie about long-lost twins. If you are absolutely set on the ‘long-lost twin’ genre, make sure that the twins have prior contact, so that Twin 1 can actually care about and/or be aware of the existence of the Twin 2.
10) If you are a director, and your name is not John Woo, you should not stage gunfights in churches. John Woo is to gunfights in churches what David "Lawrence of Arabia" Lean is to making movies in deserts. It's already been done better than you can do it, so, just don't even try it.
There are lots of things I could go into, but, this is meant to be an entry-level course. If you are looking to see about a nuclear device that terrorists have planted on American soil this week, go and see The Sum of All Fears. If you are in the mood to play the live-version of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000”, then, by all means, go and see Bad Company.
Comments by: YACCS